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John Whitfield presents a festive TV guide for the research policy-minded

With no new consultations to respond to, parliamentary committee reports to read, concordats to sign or open letters to retweet, we know that readers may struggle to find convincing excuses to get some personal time at Christmas. Chill—we’ve got you covered, with some festive viewing treats for the research policy-minded. No one is going to want to watch any of these with you.

Blue Horizon
Bittersweet romance in which a nation’s researchers spend seven long years trying to get together with a major international funding scheme, only to realise that the thrill of the chase was more exciting than the reality.

Trouble at t’Paper Mill
Gritty yet seasonal period drama set in late 2022. The mill’s workers look forward to a cheerless new year when the owners move to replace all but one of them with ChatGPT.

People! Culture! Environment!
In this feelgood musical, a scrappy post-’92 institution is thrust centre stage in the (spoiler alert) 2027 Research Excellence Framework after the local Russell Group university disappears up its own excellence.

Genuine Inquiry
Confrontational glove-puppet reenactment of the Covid hearings, in which science advisers’ testimony is augmented with language commensurate to the events being described.

The (Research) Office
Another showing for the Christmas special of the sitcom that seemed a classic at the time, but now looks overreliant on jokes derived from the acronym for full economic costing.

Peaky Double Blinders
A crime family is ruthless in pursuing results. But when those results are not reproducible, the clan is forced to rethink its methods and reform its incentives.

Missions: Impenetrable
The shadowy Commission sets Ethan Hunt a grand challenge. But his European-made tablet self-destructs before he can scroll through enough implementation plans and model grant agreements to work out what it is.

International Student Island
Morally ambiguous reality show paid for by its contestants. Should we be welcoming the players, or throwing them out? And is it healthy to cram so many onto the island?

If It Ain’t Woke, Don’t Nix It
Panel game in which senior staff at UK Research and Innovation are forced to work out which project proposals will get science secretary Michelle Donelan’s seal of ideological approval.

Election 2024
Bleak, low-budget satire set in the near-future. Somehow manages to be simultaneously boring and horrifying as, during the hottest year in history, the two main parties see which can ditch its green policies the quickest.